Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

carry onRainbow Rowell has done it again.  In Carry On, she continues the fan fiction by Cath, the main character, in her captivating previous novel, Fangirl.  Carry On operates on a multiple-perspective basis, in which the chapters alternate between each of the significant characters’ perspectives on both the war and the world of mages.  This works to keep the reader guessing until the last moment.

Because this is a short-lived one shot into the world of Simon Snow, readers are introduced to this new world at the end of what would have been a long series.  Simon Snow is back at Watford, a school for mages.  He is the Mage’s Heir, the chosen one, destined to end the war within the magical realm and stop a dark creature called the Insidious Humdrum.  His obsession with his roommate for the last 6 years, Basilton “Baz” Pitch, evolves into a realization of his true feelings for his so-called nemesis.  His foes morph into his friends and the one person he trusted becomes his greatest enemy.

The relationship between Simon and Baz transcends romance in the sense that it all started out with hatred from two families: the Pitches and the Mage.  It develops in a way that is reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  However, instead of a couple of weeks, Baz and Simon have been battling for 7 years.  Then, after realizing their love for each other, they continue trying to honor their families’ wishes, even assuming that the entire situation will end with a large battle between the two.  But this doesn’t stop their affections for each other, which is admirable.  It also does not help that this conditioned dislike for one another leads to many misunderstandings, such as when Baz “tried to kill” Simon with a Chimera.  However, the love they share is not the center of the novel, as one would expect from Rowell’s Fangirl.

Rowell creates an entire realm similar, yet different, to J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.  There are similarities (such as a personal familiarity in Simon’s best friend Penny Bounce and Harry’s Hermione Granger), but the overall plot is set independently of Harry Potter.

The author tends to allude to real-life materials and situations, which almost brings readers into the world of Carry On.  As a young adult novel, Rowell hits the nail on the head with her references for a younger audience.  The book has many different appeals that extend to a plethora of readers.  Although there are some instances where there could have been more expansion or resolution, it is a pleasure to lose yourself in the stormy romance of Simon Snow and Baz Pitch.

Carry on, readers!

(Amanda Sanson, Central Library)

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